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The Basque Country
Our dear Basque friend, Ignacio Palacios Huerta, now at Brown University, welcomes Henry Levin's report on a Basque community:
"I very much agree with Henry Levin's comments and his brief discussion of the Basque character. From initial formality and coldness to "semi-brotherhood" after some weeks or months of socializing chiquiteos, economic prosperity and an entrepreneurial open mind can quite nicely coexist with the love of food and other harmless passions, and with our ingenuity and stubbornness for some old traditions.
However, the recent public subsidies to the Basque language are very harmful in many areas, such as in the University, where positions (as it has happened in Wales) are awarded largely on ability to teach in Basque, rather than on knowledge and research qualities. The result is an increasing collection of individuals who do not deserve the positions they hold. They were appointed not for their academic merits but because they speak Basque.
As to the fact that violence is breaking out again, I find it extremely sad. However, given the state of affairs in the Basque-Spanish political arena and the lack of any relevant progress during the last year and a half when violence was "officially" stopped, the recent break of the "tregua" by ETA is not at all unexpected. I think all this is a tremendously sad and very difficult problem for us.
My comment: Ignacio is in Bilbao now, so he may have fresh impressions when he returns. Universities are the motor of progress, and, if the motor stops, so will the society. Any lack of progress in the political arena is due to ETA, whom the Basque nationalists are frightened of alienating. It is blackmail.
Ronald Hilton - 12/5/99